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practice, and feedback. While an officer who is naturally a 4 (on a scale of 1–10) may never develop leadership skills that rate a 10, he or she can, nonetheless, improve to a 7 or 8. Myth #4: The LoneWarrior In his book, Leadership Without Easy Answers , Ronald Heifetz asserts, “The myth of leadership is the myth of the lone warrior: the solitary individual whose heroism and brilliance enable him to lead the way.” 7 This myth has become so pervasive in certain law enforcement organizations that officers often shed their responsibilities and accountability during times of crisis in the belief that the leader will save the day. Leadership, rather than being the solitary responsibility of a sin- gle individual, is a collaborative activity. No single person has all the answers, nor is any single person solely responsible for the suc- cesses or failures of a law enforcement agency. Today’s law enforcement organizations are composed of dozens; hundreds; and, in some cases, thousands of employees. The idea of a solitary genius overlooks the fact that lead- ers and followers are engaged in a common mission. Identifying problems, setting goals, and performing the work necessary to achieve those objectives requires leaders and followers The fifth myth is the notion that lead- ership requires charisma. Despite the contin- ued popularity of this myth, this is simply not the case. While some leaders are charismatic and extraverted, many others are not. In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins points out that many of the most effective leaders in his study were humble, self-effacing, and reason- ably quiet. 9 This is because personality is not equivalent to leadership. While charisma can be a powerful motivating tool, it can also be a liability when used to manipulate or to de- ceive others. Charisma can also create hero worship; effectively shielding the leader from the harsh truths and hard decisions required of his or her position. In many cases, suc- cessful leaders are the very opposite of the popular, flamboyant figures portrayed in the media. Although their effects on follow- ers are undeniable, effective leaders go about their work thoughtfully and quietly. What separates good leaders is not their personali- ties, but their humility, sense of purpose, and abilities to influence and to motivate others. Myth #6: Leaders Are Different Than Followers The sixth myth is the belief that leaders Ten Leadership Myths Debunked continued from page 17 to work together, not in isolation. 8 Myth #5: Leadership Requires Charisma

attitudes, and skills required to be first are not always the same capabilities required to lead effectively. Leadership, by definition, is the ability to influence, motivate, and inspire others to achieve organizational objectives. Thus, it is a person’s ability to influence oth- ers to accomplish organizational objectives and not their ability to innovate that makes someone an effective law enforcement leader. While being first can be good, it does not al- The ninth myth is the belief that “I can lead anyone.” This is the idea that a good leader can lead virtually anyone person or group in any situation, given the opportu- nity. Although some leaders are effective at leading diverse groups of followers under a variety of circumstances, the idea that a single law enforcement leader will be suc- cessful in every instance is simply not true. The best leaders have a clear understanding of their limitations. They understand their strengths, they understand their weaknesses, and they understand when a job is best per- formed by someone else. Good leaders also recognize that every follower is unique, with a distinct set of values, beliefs, and expecta- tions. 15 Whereas some followers may be best influenced by a particular leader or leader- ship style, others are not. Any law enforce- ment leader, regardless of his effectiveness in a given setting, will not be successful in every situation or with everyone. Some followers may be unable to support the leader’s par- ticular style, while others may be opposed to the leader’s beliefs, goals, or values. Thus, part of effective leadership is matching the right leader to the unique characteristics and needs of followers. Myth #10: Leadership Success Is Achieving the Highest Position Possible The tenth, and final, myth is the sug- gestion that the higher an officer is promoted within a law enforcement organization, the greater his or her leadership success. As pre- viously discussed, titles have no leadership value. While an officer’s appointment to a leadership position is often the first step to be- coming a person of influence, simply holding a particular rank or position does not make someone a leader. 16 Leadership requires the ability to influence others. If a person cannot influence others to follow willingly, regardless of his title or position, he is not a leader. This is because true leadership is different than appointed leadership. Leadership is, at its ways translate to effective leadership. Myth #9: “I Can Lead Anyone”

should strive to differentiate themselves from followers. While there is little doubt that cer- tain people possess more natural leadership abilities than others, good leaders focus more on their similarities with followers than on their differences. This is because officers nat- urally follow leaders who best represent the group’s identity and interests. 10 Anytime peo- ple come together as a group, they typically ask (a) What makes this group different? (b) What do members have in common? and (c) How do members compare to other groups? Effective leaders act as the prototype for other members by representing the group’s values, norms, and goals. Followers are also more likely to support a leader who champi- ons the group’s cause, while encouraging the development of individual members. 11 Thus, rather than spending time trying to separate themselves from followers, good leaders look for ways to best represent the group’s identity, interests, and goals. Myth #7: Lead From the Front The seventh myth is the notion that good leaders are aggressive, self-confident, and action-oriented. They take the initiative, establish the vision, control the agenda, make the important decisions, and lead the charge. If you are going to be a leader, according to this view, you need to lead from the front. While there are clearly times when a leader must advance the charge, there are others times when doing so can be counterproduc- tive. 12 Anytime a law enforcement leader leads from the front, it is virtually impossible to direct or modify the actions of team mem- bers bringing up the rear. Conversely, a leader at the rear of the team is able to observe and correct the actions of other members as the demands and constraints of the situation change. Moreover, a leader who continually assumes the lead fails to develop other lead- ers. In his book, Winning, Jack Welch, for- mer CEO of General Electric, points out that a leader’s primary job is to develop more lead- ers, not more followers. 13 It is only by build- ing strong teams, sharing responsibilities, and empowering others that today’s law enforce- ment leaders can develop the next generation of leaders. Myth #8: The Pioneer The eighth myth is the view that being first makes someone a leader. Certainly, many pioneers in their fields have also been effective leaders. Being innovative, however, does not necessarily translate to being a good leader. 14 This is because expertise or special skills in one area does not automatically create leader- ship ability. In other words, the knowledge,

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